Saxophone Forum


by LoveSupreme
(1 post)
6 years ago

Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

Hi everyone. I recently had my old Bundy alto sax (played for about a year in 5th grade) professionally fixed up and was on the verge of selling it, when I took it for a whirl and decided to hold on to it and try to start playing again. In the years since I last picked up the horn, I took up the drums and guitar, discovered jazz, and just matured musically all around. Anyway, I'm now 22 and my window of opportunity for endless, carefree practice on a daily basis is virtually closed. However, I'd like to see where I can go with this thing. I don't need to become a virtuoso, I'd just like to be able to play decent sounding melody lines and be able to pick up the sax and blow and have it sound good. Here are my questions for you guys: Given that I am able to get a decent tone out of the saxophone already (leftover from when I played 10 years ago), can I get away with using books/videos for the time being instead of shelling out large amounts of dough for a teacher? Also, my saxophone is an alto, but my favorite sax sound is that of Coltrane's tenor (I've been trying to play Psalm from Love Supreme... with varied luck)Should I just sell my alto sax now and pick up a tenor ASAP since I'll probably do that eventually anyway, or would it be fine to learn on the alto for a bit and make the transition later? Any advice is much appreciated!

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  1. by Altonian11
    (39 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

    the advice that you have previously given is worth listening to. I've only played for three years and from what I'm hearing (reading) these guys know alot more than I

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  2. by Tranesyadaddy
    (279 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

    I've always found alto and tenor to be two different persuits. for the alto you tend to have a tighter embouchure and since you're manipulating a smaller column of air, you don't blow quite as much air through the horn. you want to ba able to pick up your horn and have it feel totally natural, so I reckon get a tenor asap.

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    1. by Tranesyadaddy
      (279 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

      also, jazz and improvising entails playing lines that you're hearing in your head and I find I get accostomed to playing in the particular pitch of my horn, (Eb for alto and Bb for tenor), and when I switch it can be a bit disconcerting. that might just be me tho.

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      1. by Tranesyadaddy
        (279 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

        actually now that I mention it I can think of quite a few tenor players that double on sop but stay away from the alto. Trane himself is an obvious one.

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        1. by chalazon
          (547 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          sonny stitt

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        2. by Tranesyadaddy
          (279 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          hey I didn't say thay all did.

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        3. by saxismyaxe
          (574 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          Parker played quite a bit of tenor early on, with Jay McShann and with the famous Miles Davis 1947 recording date for instance.

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        4. by kneejerk52
          (397 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          for me i find that some songs "fit the horn" so to speak, like mercy, mercy sounds best on alto for me, any blues song sounds better on the tenor, and most of the smooth grooves fit the soprano, but that's how it seems to work for me.

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        5. by Tranesyadaddy
          (279 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          I like playing Antonio Carlos Jobim songs on tenor, but when I think blues I think K.C.Blues or Parker's Mood.

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        6. by Lotus54
          (32 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          If I recall, Coltrane started out on Alto. I did also and played for a few years before adding Tenor (and mostly playing that now). It is generally easier to go from a smaller to larger horn, but if you know you want to play tenor it probably would be a good idea to start looking. I wouldn't get in any huge hurry, play as much as you can now- everything you learn on the alto will work on the tenor, with the exception of your embrochure will be different. You don't *need* a teacher but it may help you. Some tips for self learning that may help. Breath from your diaphragm. Record yourself and listen. Keep those and listen again in 6 months. Hear you what you like and what you don't like. Listen to players who you like their sound. Play lots of long tones, concentrating on sound. Breath from your diaphragm! Breathing and breath support is hugely important in your sound and ability to keep in tune. On those long notes, play against a solid tone and match it. Make sure when you attack the note (either softly or hard) it is right on pitch right away and stays there (later you can mess about it bending it when you want, but start out right on). I can always hear players with not a lot of time, most all have poor support and a 'whimpy' sound. Even if you like a light sound (think Paul Desmond) his pitch was right on and stayed solid. Those are just a few off the top of my head.

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        7. by chalazon
          (547 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Drummer picking up the Saxophone... Need advice!

          well said!

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